Alex Clayton
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Sarah Moore
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In touch with the ordinary
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This chapter explores the significance of the ordinary in Columbo (NBC, 1971–2003). It shows how the titular detective figure is distinguished from other detectives not only by his raincoat, cigar and manner, but also by his connection to the ‘everyday’, enabling a mode of detection based on suspicious deviation from custom. Peter Falk’s embodiment of the detective as eccentric everyman is played off against the ostensibly ‘epic’ gladiatorial structure of the drama, the high-society setting, and, most markedly, the high-and-mighty villain, whose key flaw is hubris borne of self-imposed exile from normal interaction. With close reference to a single exemplary episode, ‘A Friend in Deed’ (1974), this chapter examines how stylistic choices and performance features help sing the virtues of groundedness, empathy and close attention to what people ordinarily say and do.

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Epic / everyday

Moments in television


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